Italians produce virgin tomatoes

Italian scientists claim to have made a breakthrough that may interest any gardeners who use their greenhouses to grow tomatoes.

Researchers from Verona University and the Experimental Research Council (CRA) have discovered a new way of growing tomatoes without pollination or fertilisation, according to Italy Mag.

The virgin tomatoes have led scientists to believe that the technique could be used in environments where it is normally difficult to produce a crop.

Parthenocarpy is greatly appreciated in horticulture because it allows the production of fruit even in environments that are unfavourable for pollination, and because the absence of seeds can improve the quality of the fruit, CRAs Giuseppe Leonardo Rotino told the website.

The tomatoes were grown using a gene-suppression technique that eliminated the plant growth control hormone auxin.

Suppressing the gene, which controls the plants reactions to light and gravity, allowed them to produce fruit and leaves, even without pollination.

Tomatoes are a greenhouse favourite in the UK, but a Gloucestershire man recently found fame by becoming the first in the UK to grow a type of tropical banana in his greenhouse.